‘Breaking history again’ – Eddie Jones & Owen Farrell post-Japan victory

Eddie Jones' England scored seven tries to beat Japan 52-13 at Twickenham
©INPHO/Billy Stickland

It was a return to winning ways on Saturday afternoon as England breezed past Japan 52-13 at Twickenham, with Eddie Jones’ team putting out a far more dominant performance than the one less than a week earlier against Argentina.

Relatively plain sailing, England scored seven tries on the way to their win, Marcus Smith and Guy Porter getting two each, as Freddie Steward, Ellis Genge and a penalty try did the rest of the work in West London.

Looking far more cohesive and settled than the Sunday before, England head coach Eddie Jones was pleased with how his team fared in the fixture.

“Obviously it’s an improvement,” he said. “As we said at the start of November, each game we want to get a little bit better, and we were definitely better than the Argentina game.

“I thought we played with a lot of purpose today, we knew exactly how we wanted to play, and as I said in the round-up after Argentina, the fault that we didn’t play like that against Argentina was my poor coaching, so this week it is not my poor coaching.

“It’s good play from the players. I though the players have been outstanding, the way they’ve applied themselves and played with a lot of really good purpose.”

Steward rules the roost

For his performance in the game, Freddie Steward was awarded the Man of the Match award. In a superb performance, the 21-year-old had a remarkably assured display, scoring one try and doing much of the leg work for Marcus Smith’s first score of the day.

Like he always has done since becoming a regular for Leicester Tigers, Steward took high balls well, made 70 meters will ball in hand and beating four defenders, the back continues to impress at such a young age and looks to be an increasingly important member of this England team.

“You consider that this is his 15th Test, him and Marcus have come through – they only have 15 Tests in their career – they can definitely keep growing,” Jones said.

“Freddie, particularly today, got a lot of free ball which enabled him to run a little bit more than he usually does, but his kick-catch game was fantastic.”

When it comes to Steward as having confidence on the rugby field, which many players of his age don’t often seem to have at the international level, Jones says that the only real contention that he has with the full-back is his Movember effort.

“Some players come through – Owen [Farrell] was one – that they are experienced right from the start and other players tend to take longer to mature and you never really know how long it is going to take, but he has got a good head on him, he doesn’t get too ahead of himself,” Jones said.

“The only flashiness we’ve seen from him, he’s for this ridiculous moustache at the moment. I think we are going to have to get rid of that for him.”

All Blacks week

Of course, the All Blacks will play Scotland a day after England’s victory. No doubt some of the group will be watching the goings on at BT Murrayfield intently, the challenge of New Zealand known to many as being the most testing in Test match rugby.

Under Ian Foster the fabled side has shown a softer underbelly than most have seen in a long time, but even then, are not a side to take lightly. 

England captain Owen Farrell is more than aware of this. In 2019, the centre was part of the England team that beat the team to make the World Cup Final and this week is looking forward to seeing how much he and his teammates can gel further ahead of next Saturday’s challenge.

“We’ll see where we can take it,” Farrell said. “We’ve had a short turnaround this week and we’ve had a big shift in attitude and we’ve got seven days together now to see how much we can get better, see how much closer we can get, see how much tighter we can become as a team, push our rugby a bit and make sure we turn up with the right attitude again.”

Having played one another 42 times, it is the All Blacks that have the ascendency in the contest. Winning 33 games to England’s eight, it is Eddie Jones’ team that had the last laugh thanks to that semi-final victory in Yokohama.

Welcoming New Zealand back to Twickenham for the first time since 2018, Jones for one is looking to write history again against the All Blacks.

“It’s an opportunity to play against one of the giants of World Rugby,” he said. “They’re in a redevelopment period of their game. we’ll see how they play Scotland tomorrow and then then have a chat about how we play against them.

“For an England player it’s a massive opportunity. If you look at the history of the sport, the game’s been going for 150 years, and England have won 22 per cent of their Tests against New Zealand.

“There’s a narrative that says England can’t beat New Zealand, but in 2019 we showed that if you’ve got the right attitude and the right game plan then history can be broken. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to break history again.”